Business wants a political solution

The business community stands ready to support a political solution to the crisis around ANC president Jacob Zuma’s corruption case, a move also endorsed this week by the chairperson of Parliament’s justice committee, Yunus Carrim.

“This matter [of Zuma] must be brought to closure so that the country can proceed with certainty of political leadership. If it requires a political solution, let a political solution be found,” said chief executive of Business Unity South Africa (Busa) Jerry Vilakazi.

Busa represents 80% of businesses in South Africa.

The business community feels the state had more than five years to put together charges against Zuma.

Said Vilakazi: “This failure has opened up the environment in which there are all kinds of utterances about whether he will be able to receive a fair trial. Democracy is threatened by the failure of the state to deal speedily with Zuma’s case.”

He declined to make suggestions about what form a political solution might take, but said that it had to be arranged in an open and transparent way.

He said business leaders are constantly questioned by international investors about what will happen over Zuma and they had no answers.

“We feel as long as this matter is unresolved we create tension, both locally and internationally,” Vilakazi said.

Carrim agreed that a political solution should be encouraged.

“If there is a political solution that is legally and constitutionally tenable, surely we should all, whatever political party we come from, encourage it in the national interest? After all, aren’t there precedents for this in the established democracies in cases that are broadly similar?” he told the Mail & Guardian.

Carrim was referring to the legislation in Italy, France and the United States where laws prohibit the charging of sitting presidents.

In business circles leaders increasingly see ANC warnings of “blood on the streets” as a threat to the country’s stability and their interests.

Zuma’s battles will feature on the agenda of the coming annual general meeting of the Black Management Forum (BMF), said chairperson Jimmy Manyi.

“For us, it is about what serves the best interests of South Africa as a whole. We see this as an important matter for business and therefore it needs to be discussed.”

This week ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema called for President Thabo Mbeki to intervene in the Zuma case as he had in the case against police commissioner Jackie Selebi.

The ANCYL has repeatedly called for a political solution and has now outlined for the first time what it sees as the best way out of the legal and political morass.

Malema told the M&G that Mbeki should intervene in the prosecution of Zuma by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). Mbeki allegedly said that there was no case against the police commissioner and cautioned the NPA to think about the political implications of charging him.

Suspended NPA head Vusi Pikoli is one of those who claimed that Mbeki intervened in the investigation into Selebi and that he (Pikoli) was suspended for his decision to proceed to charge the police commissioner.

“The state president should say the case has not been handled properly and it should be reviewed. He must point out that the case has been dragging on for eight years and it is damaging the country’s standing internationally.

“He did not act when the Public Protector recommended action against the NPA because of the media leaks and when they produced the flawed document called Browse Mole Report, which tried to discredit Zuma. He also did nothing when the Pietermaritzburg High Court threw out the NPA’s case and told them they were limping from one disaster to another.

“Mbeki must question the handling of the case and ask for a review, which will hopefully lead to the dropping of the charges. The reason the NPA is proceeding with the case is because there is no political will from their masters to be fair to Zuma,” Malema said.

Rapule Tabane

Rapule Tabane

Rapule Tabane is the Mail & Guardian's politics editor. He sometimes worries that he is a sports fanatic, but is in fact just crazy about Orlando Pirates. While he used to love reading only fiction, he is now gradually starting to enjoy political biographies. He was a big fan of Barack Obama, but now accepts that even he is only mortal.
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